Featured Apple says sorry for Maps, but is it too late?

For many smartphone operators, Google Maps was one of the most used applications.

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It would tap into GPS technology to locate live positions on a map, create routes, and search destinations relatively reliably.

The app came preinstalled on all iPhones, until Apple launched the new iPhone 5 and iOS6 mobile operating system, which many users with older iPhone devices downloaded.

In its latest version, Apple deleted YouTube which is owned by Google but can still be downloaded as an app, along with Google Maps, replacing it with its own Apple Maps app.

It however, has been slammed by users because it incorrectly labelled some cities and countries, misplaced some landmarks, along with some distorted images of key infrastructure.

It wasn’t up to Apple’s usual high standard, and the company knew it.

Overnight, its CEO, Tim Cook took the unusual step to post an apology on the company’s website.

He acknowledged the criticism of the new software saying, “At Apple, we strive to make world-class products that deliver the best experience possible to our customers” adding, “With the launch of our new Maps last week, we fell short on this commitment.”

Mr Cook said, as more people used Apple Maps, the better it will get.

He did however, suggest unhappy customers use competitors’ map apps in the meantime.

“While we’re improving Maps, you can try alternatives by downloading map apps from the App Store like Bing, MapQuest and Waze, or use Google or Nokia maps by going to their websites and creating an icon on your home screen to their web app.”

It raises the question, will Apple’s move to launch, by its own admission, an inferior replacement to Google Maps, hurt its brand?

Technology commentator, Trevor Long tells me, “Apple as a company is not used to doing things badly, Apple Maps is a disappointment to the company, and will be ‘that thing’ that pundits use to chip away at the brand for years ahead. So in that sense, there is definitely brand damage.”

“But in reality, the company is judged on a lot more than one App. The iPhone 5 is its best selling phone ever, and the financial results won’t show any indication of the ‘map problem’. The bigger question is, would this have happened under Steve Jobs, and is that a sign of future brand damage?”

The other question is, are there more teething problems with the operating system?

There is anecdotal evidence of Wi-Fi connection problems on older iPhone models running iOS6 and more frequent coverage dropouts.

Don’t forget, the other issues that came along with previous iPhone launches. The iPhone 4 had problems with its internal antenna if held in a certain way, so Apple offered a free case to try to fix that. Then the iPhone 4S disappointed some people because Siri, the voice personal assist didn’t live up to their expectations by not always understanding spoken actions.

Still, all of that hasn’t stopped enthusiasts from hitting Apple stores. Apple has sold five million iPhone 5s during the first three days in stores last week, and that doesn’t include the devices sold online.

Investors though, have sold down the stock, closing at US$667.10 on the Nasdaq overnight, down from an all time high of US$705.07 reached last week.

Have you encountered problems with the iPhone5 or iOS6?

Featured Tomahawk no certainty for Swans clash

Geelong won’t throw caution to the wind in their bid to lock up a top-two berth, with gun forward Tom Hawkins no certainty to return for Saturday’s crunch AFL clash with Sydney at Simonds Stadium.

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Hawkins missed his team’s 66-point win over West Coast due to a back injury that had been causing him increasing pain in recent weeks.

The 25-year-old struggled to even bend over a week earlier against Port Adelaide, and will be monitored closely on the training track over the next few days to determine his availability.

With just two rounds remaining, Geelong are in the box seat to finish second and secure a home qualifying final.

But they will be in danger of finishing as low as fourth if they lose to defending premiers Sydney.

Geelong coach Chris Scott is optimistic Hawkins will be fit to take on the Swans.

But Scott is adamant the high-stakes nature of the match won’t influence his decision on whether to play Hawkins.

“He’ll be OK to train early in the week and we’ll push him reasonably hard,” Scott said.

“These things can be a little bit fluid.

“The early prognosis is that he has benefited from the lighter week on the track and from some of the intervention the medical staff have used.

“By Tuesday we will have a pretty good idea as to whether he’s going to play.

“Even though the game is crucially important, we will value four weeks’ time more than this weekend as far as Tom.

“We’re optimistic, but at the same time a little cautious.”

A fit-and-firing Hawkins is vital to Geelong’s chances of winning their fourth flag since 2007.

Hawkins was a key figure in Geelong’s 2011 premiership, booting three goals and setting up another in their grand final win over Collingwood.

But even if the 197cm spearhead isn’t fully fit, Geelong have enough weapons to win the flag.

Their offensive prowess was on full display against the Eagles, with midfielder Joel Selwood continuing his impressive recent run in front of the sticks with four goals in the 16.11 (107) to 6.5 (41) triumph.

Selwood booted just 33 goals in his first 97 games.

But in the past five weeks alone, the 25-year-old has kicked 14 goals, with Geelong’s only loss during that period coming against North Melbourne in round 19 when Selwood failed to kick a goal.

Cats veteran Paul Chapman made it through another VFL hit-out on Saturday and is in line to return against the Swans, while Steven Motlop is also set to be available despite being subbed out at half-time against the Eagles with hamstring tightness.

Featured Wiggins to return to track for Olympics

Former Tour de France winner Bradley Wiggins is planning a return to the track ahead of the 2016 Rio Olympics, he told a British newspaper in an interview published Monday.

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Wiggins made history last year when he became the first ever Briton to win the sport’s greatest stage race, but he has since been surpassed by compatriot and Sky teammate Chris Froome, who triumphed at this year’s Grand Boucle.

Wiggins, now 33, admits he cannot challenge Froome for the Team Sky leadership and says he will now aim to add to his four Olympic gold medals.

“I’m going to continue to the next Olympics and try for a fifth gold on the track, that’s the plan,” he told the Times newspaper.

“Having lost weight and muscle the last few years, I wouldn’t be able to walk back into that team pursuit squad, so I am not taking it for granted but I am working towards that.

“It would be nice to finish the career with another Olympic gold.”

Wiggins won individual pursuit gold in 2004 in Athens and in 2008 in Beijing, where he also won the team pursuit.

In London 2012 he won the time trial on the road and he has seven Olympic medals in total dating back to a bronze in the team pursuit in Sydney in 2000.

However, he says he will spend another season riding on the road before making the change in 2015, giving himself 18 months to prepare for the Olympics.

And although he previously said he would not ride another Tour, he now feels he would be prepared to be Froome’s domestique.

“I don’t mind admitting that Chris is probably a better Grand Tour rider than me,” he said.

“He is a much better climber, he can time trial as well.

“He has age on his side, he has no kids. That’s fine.

“If Chris wants to, he could potentially win five tours now. So if I want to win another tour, I’d probably have to leave the team (Sky).

“I love this team. This is my home. I’m not going to go: ‘I want to be leader so I’m off’.”

Wiggins missed the defence of his Tour crown due to injury and illness.

He had pulled out of the Giro d’Italia in May due to illness and then a knee injury disrupted his preparations for the Tour.

Up until that point he had insisted he wanted to lead Team Sky in France, even though boss Dave Brailsford had publically backed Froome for the role.

But Wiggins claimed he was always prepared to follow team orders.

“At this team, everyone is encouraged to be as good as they can be,” he said.

“I felt, as the defending champion, I was quite entitled to put my hand up and say ‘I would like to be considered for the leadership’.

“But if someone is chosen over me I am professional enough to do my job.”

Royals to visit Australia with baby George

Australians should get a chance to see the future king of Britain next year with Prince William and his wife Kate planning to visit Down Under with baby George.

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Speaking at the Anglesey Show on Wednesday, the Duke of Cambridge announced he wouldn’t be taking on another tour of duty in Wales when his stint as an RAF search and rescue helicopter pilot ends in September.

Instead the new family is expected to move permanently to Kensington Palace in London, with William taking on more royal duties.

Those duties will include, it now seems, an official visit to Australia in 2014.

Speaking to Max and Maxine Davies from Victor Harbor near Adelaide on Wednesday the Duke of Cambridge said: “George is doing really well, thank you.”

“We are all very hopeful of coming to Australia next year,” William added, according to media reports in the UK.

Mr and Mrs Davies, aged 77 and 75 respectively, later said they were thrilled at the prospect of a royal visit.

“We are on holiday here and can’t believe we got to talk to him,” Mrs Davies said at the show, according to British tabloid The Daily Mail.

“How wonderful that the family will come to Australia to visit.”

Prince William was just nine months old when he himself was first taken on a trip Down Under by Prince Charles and Princess Diana.

The new prince was born just over three weeks ago and the miniature monarch-to-be was named George Alexander Louis two days later.

Prince William joked about his young son at the Anglesey Show on Wednesday.

“He’s pretty loud but of course very good looking,” he said.

“I have to say that I thought search and rescue duties over Snowdonia were physically and mentally demanding but looking after a three-week-old baby is up there.”

India says Roche patent "lapsed"

India has denied revoking additional patents related to Roche Holding’s breast cancer drug Herceptin, saying the Swiss giant failed to follow legal procedures so the applications lapsed.

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India granted Herceptin a patent in April 2007 but on Monday said the company failed to protect its intellectual property rights for three other patents related to the best-selling drug.

The Kolkata Patent Office said Roche, which still holds an Indian patent on its main Herceptin invention, failed to turn up for hearings for the additional patents and filed incorrect paperwork.

“Before the patent controllers issued their decisions, the applicants (Roche) were given due opportunity of being heard but the applicants have chosen not to attend,” the office said in a statement.

The Kolkata Patent Office objected to Roche’s patent problems, reported at the weekend, being portrayed by foreign media as the latest in a string of intellectual property setbacks for multinational pharmaceutical firms in India’s $US13 billion ($A14.61 billion) drug market.

The patent office said in the case of Roche, it was following “due course of the principle of natural justice, gave the applicant the opportunity of being heard and then only finally disposed of the matter”.

The Herceptin additional patents had “not been revoked” but the request for them was treated as “withdrawn” due to failure to follow prescribed steps, the patent office said.

The government does not normally comment at such length on patent issues but it has been under fire from the international drug industry and the United States over its series of rejections of patents accepted in other nations.

The country has been smarting from accusations it fails to uphold intellectual property rights — charges it strongly denies.

India’s patent laws are, however, tougher than those in many other countries as part of its attempt to make medicines more affordable for its vast poor population.

It insists drugs must stand the “test of innovation” to be granted patents and refuses to allow so-called “evergreening” — the awarding of a patent for a small improvement to an existing medicine to extend the patent’s shelf life.

Once drugs go off patent, they can be sold much more cheaply.

India, known as the “pharmacy to the world”, has a huge generics industry that turns out cheaper copycat versions of life-saving branded drugs for poor patients in developing nations.

Roche spokesman Daniel Grotzky told AFP that the company could “confirm that the Assistant Controller of Patents at the Kolkata Patent Office has refused” Herceptin the additional patents.

“We are now considering the further course of action,” he said in an email, adding he could not immediately comment on the Indian account of events.

Roche’s drug, Herceptin, has become one of its most successful medicines, blocking the action of a protein that spurs tumour growth.

“The applicant may explore further legal possibilities, as they so desire,” the Kolkata Patent Office said in its statement late Monday, without elaborating.

The Roche controversy comes after the Intellectual Property Appellate Board in India last week revoked a local patent granted to Britain’s GlaxoSmithKline for breast cancer drug Tykerb, calling it an incremental improvement on an earlier drug.

The Roche patents were rejected for procedural problems rather than for intellectual property reasons.

Western drug-makers are seeking to win a larger part of India’s rapidly expanding drugs market to compensate for slowing sales in advanced markets.

India earlier did not grant drug patents but changed the law in 2005 to allow them as part of a World Trade Organisation agreement.

Indonesian Muslims slam beauty contest

Indonesia’s top Islamic authority has lashed out at the country’s decision to host the Miss World beauty pageant next month, saying that women exposing their bodies goes against Muslim teaching.

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The pageant is already facing opposition in Muslim-majority Indonesia, with radicals vowing to stage protests against the contest even after organisers agreed to drop the bikini round in a bid to avoid causing offence.

The Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) added its voice to the protests on Friday, saying a top-level meeting of clerics earlier this month decided it did not want the pageant in the country.

“Exposing women’s bodies in public is ‘haram’, forbidden by Islamic teaching,” senior MUI official Muhyiddin Junaidi told reporters in the capital Jakarta.

“Even though the bikini event is being axed, the contestants will still wear tight dresses and expose parts of their body.”

The group also urged the country’s Muslims, more than 90 per cent of the 240 million population, not to watch the pageant on television.

“The contest tries to trick people by saying that it’s not only a physical beauty contest but also to show inner beauty,” said deputy MUI head, Amirsyah Tambunan.

Junaidi said that the MUI had now made its position clear, and it was up to authorities whether they decided to cancel the pageant.

While most Indonesians practise a moderate form of Islam, a vocal hardline fringe has succeeded in getting events cancelled in the past.

Last year, pop sensation Lady Gaga axed a concert after hardliners threatened to burn down the venue and criticised her for wearing only “a bra and panties”.

More than 130 women will compete in Miss World, with some rounds on the resort island of Bali and the final in Bogor outside Jakarta. Bogor is in West Java province, parts of which are considered a stronghold for radicals.

Organisers revealed in June that the contestants would not wear bikinis during the beach fashion section, to be held in Bali, and would instead wear more conservative attire such as traditional sarongs.

Minister to investigate detention centre claims

A whistleblower has told SBS’ Dateline program that Manus Island is a place unfit to be a dog kennel, where detainees aren’t protected from sexual assaults and abuses go unreported.

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Meanwhile, there have been revelations authorities were warned tensions were likely to erupt on Nauru ahead of last week’s riots.

 

Thea Cowie reports.

 

 

Asylum-seekers protesting at the conditions on Nauru before last Friday’s riot left the detention centre in ruins with the Australian government facing a damage bill of at least $60 million.

 

It’s a situation insiders say may soon be replicated on Manus Island.

 

Immigration Minister Tony Burke has told ABC radio he’ll be wasting no time in investigating allegations about the detention centres on Nauru and Manus Island.

 

“The allegations are horrific. There’s no other way of describing. I wish I had been able to get the specifics off them earlier than last night because I would have started acting on them earlier than last night.”

 

Mr Burke’s decision to travel to the centres and investigate the allegations comes after former G4S guard Rod St George told Dateline that asylum seekers were being sexually abused and tortured in the Manus centre.

 

He told Dateline some asylum-seekers were raped, while others were coerced into sewing their lips together, or had solvents poured into their ears.

 

He says these allegations were raised in team management meetings attended by Immigration Department officials, but they made no efforts to separate the victims from their alleged attackers.

 

Mr St George also claims acts of self-harm and attempted suicides are occurring almost daily among asylum seekers who are waiting months for their asylum applications to be processed.

 

“Very common. Almost daily. I had just previous to going to Manus left a detention centre where there were approximately 600, so twice as many than were at Manus and we didn’t have the amount of incidences or self harms in a week that we would see at Manus in a day.”

 

Mr St George worked for decades in prisons around the country before working as an occupational health and safety compliance manager on Manus Island.

 

He says what he saw there made him resign after just one month.

 

Other whistleblowers have also spoken out about what they describe as the government’s failure to address concerns about Nauru’s detention centre.

 

Mark Isaacs is one of a team of Salvation Army officers who were providing humanitarian support on Nauru.

 

He told the ABC workers were warning the Immigration Department for months that conditions were so bad a riot was likely to break out at any time.

 

“As shocked as we are we feel that it was an incident that was inevitable considering the condition that the men are kept in and the past events that have occurred in Nauru. In the past ten months there have been a number of incidences. Two riots or two uprisings that I was present for. I’ve witnessed a man suffer a psychotic episode in the camp and not be treated for three days. This deterioration of mental health plays a large part in the incidents that have occurred. There’s been a building tension in the camp, a building frustration ever since we first arrived.”

 

The Salvation Army has since released a statement on behalf of 31 current and former staff highly critical of the conditions they’ve witnessed while assisting asylum seekers on Nauru and Manus Island.

 

Australian Federal Police Sergeant Brendan Thomson is a former leader of the Operational Response Group on Christmas Island.

 

He told the ABC that riots on Manus Island are likely.

 

“I think Australia’s kind of handed them a grenade without the pin and what’s happened over the weekend is indicative of potentially what we may see in Manus and what we saw on Christmas Island.”

 

The Manus Island whistleblower Rod St George also claims asylum seekers are stockpiling weapons, and he warns people could be killed in a breakout.

 

Papua New Guinea Prime Minister says he can’t guarantee that won’t happen.

 

“But what we have to do is try and manage it so that we reduce the chances of this kind of activity happening like the violence in Nauru. But that was confined to the centre itself it’s not spreading to the rest of the community. So our aim is to try and build a permanent facility that is going to reduce this kind of opportunistic people who are trying to seek attention.”

 

Mr O’Neill says his immigration department is working very closely with Australia’s and he gets regular briefings on the Manus centre.

 

But he says he’s not particularly concerned about what he’s hearing.

 

“Those issues that you are talking about including the whistleblower stated over the last day or so is an ongoing issue you’ve people from different areas living together in one area so they are problems about how they live, how they manage their day to day activity.”

 

But Opposition Leader Tony Abbott says the allegations are alarming and the government should have seen them coming.

 

“They have to be investigated and if people have done the wrong thing, well they ought to be punished. I should point out that (Opposition immigration spokesman) Scott Morrison has been warning the government for months that there were serious risks of bullying and abuse and violence in detention centres both here and overseas. I’m disappointed that the government has made light of Scott Morrison’s warnings.”

 

Immigration Minister Tony Burke says it was only after the SBS allegations went to air that he learned Mr St George’s identity.

 

He’s says he spoke to the whistleblower immediately and is already looking to implement some of his ideas for improving conditions.

 

“There were some very specific suggestions that Rod St George put to me last night which I’ll be looking at directly. Things as simple as the fact that at the facility it was impossible to separate anyone so if you had one group that was actively demonising and causing all sorts of damage to more vulnerable people there then you didn’t have a way of physically making sure that the more vulnerable people were being kept separate.”

 

Mr Burke says despite the concerns about conditions in Australia’s overseas detention centres he is not about to abandon plans to expand the Manus Island facility.

 

The Minister says enlarging the facility offers a great opportunity for issues of design, staff training and culture to be looked at afresh.

 

The Rudd government says it will enlarge the centre to cater for 3,000 asylum-seekers, up from the current capacity of 600, as part of its new policy designed to discourage boat arrivals.

 

Is support growing for same sex marriage?

Former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd says he’s changed his mind on same sex marriage, and now believes the federal parliament should legalise it.

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Mr Rudd, who voted against the marriage equality bill last year, says Australia should be mature enough for the secular state to have its definition of marriage and religious institutions to have their own definitions.

 

He says the Coalition must allow a conscience vote on gay marriage when it comes before the parliament against on June 6, or allow the issue to be put at a referendum.

 

Amanda Cavill has the details.

 

Last September Mr Rudd was one of 98 federal MPs to vote against a marriage equality bill.

 

He says his change in position has come about as a result of a lot of reflection over a long period of time.

 

But he says any legal recognition for gay marriage should make religious institutions exempt from having to change their own practices.

 

Greens deputy leader Adam Bandt has another marriage equality bill before the House of Representatives and a vote on it is expected on June 6.

 

Adam Bandt says if Oppostion leader Tony Abbott was to allow a conscience vote, he’s certain same sex marriage would pass into law.

 

“This is the Liberal Party that says they don’t believe a government should have a role in regulating people’s private lives including what happens in the bedroom. We’ve seen Liberal MPs cross the floor this parliament on issues from refugees and single parents and it’s time for them to do the same on equal marriage. If Tony Abbott allows a conscience vote then I am confident that before the election it will be legal in Australia for people to marry the person they love.”

 

Mr Rudd says the coalition should allow a conscience vote on the matter in parliament, as the Labor Party does and if they continue to refuse a referendum on the issue should be considered.

 

“I don’t think that’s the proper way that this matter, which affects people deeply and personally and is complex ethically, let’s just grant that point. It’s not one where a party discipline should be imposed imposed. Every Member of Parliament should exercise their own conscience and be free to vote accordingly.”

 

Prime Minister Julia Gillard says she won’t be changing her mind about same sex marriage and voting for Mr Bandt’s bill.

 

But she says every member of the federal parliamentary Labor Party can vote with their consciences.

 

She’s challenged Mr Abbott to follow in the footsteps of conservative leaders such as John Key in New Zealand and British Prime Minister David Cameron and allow his MPs to have a conscience vote on the issue.

 

“When you look around the world and at those nations that have changed their laws and embraced same sex marriage, a hallmark of those nations has been that conservative leaders have given their members a conscience vote. So the step forward we need to see here is Mr Abbott does what I have already done for the Labor Party and that Mr Abbott gives his members a conscience vote.”

 

Opposition leader Tony Abbott says he respects Mr Rudd and the former Labor leader is entitled to change his mind.

 

However, Mr Abbott says he’s not prepared to consider giving a conscience vote to his party room until after the next election – notwithstanding the new vote on the issue in early June.

 

“The point I have made is: we took a particular policy into the last election. The policy we took into the last election is that we support the existing Marriage Act with the existing definition of marriage and my party room was strongly of the view that we were not going to say one thing before an election and do the opposite after an election.”

 

Some members of the opposition claim Mr Rudd has only announced a change in mind on the issue in a bid to gain a political advantage over his Liberal National Party rival for his Brisbane seat of Griffith, former Australian Medical Association president Bill Glasson.

 

But Mr Rudd insists he’s announced his change of heart because of the upcoming vote in parliament – not to score political points.

 

“If you can’t be grown up enough in the Australian national political debate and reach an amended or changed position then frankly you shouldn’t be in the national political debate. If you expect every-one in national political life to have views frozen as of the moment they are elected to the House of Representatives to the day they are either booted out, retire or resign then frankly I think that’s an unrealistic and unhealthy expectation.”

 

Foreign Affairs Minister Bob Carr says the parliamentary numbers may be shifting in support of legalising same-sex marriage.

 

But he says he’s not certain if that can be reflected in next month’s vote unless all parliamentarians can have an open say.

 

Last year’s vote on legalising same-sex was lost 98-42.

 

 

Bolt is the best in the world, ever – official

Bolt followed up the 100 and 200m double with his third gold in the final event, taking his all-time tally to eight.

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That matches American trio Carl Lewis, Michael Johnson and Allyson Felix but the Jamaican moved ahead by virtue of his two silvers from 2007.

Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce also completed the hat-trick as Jamaica won the women’s 4×100 relay in the second-fastest time ever, giving them all six sprint golds in Moscow to bring a smile back to the Caribbean island following the doping cloud surrounding the build-up to Moscow.

On a high-quality final day, there was a Kenyan middle-distance double as Asbel Kiprop retained his 1,500 metres title and Eunice Sum took a surprise gold in the women’s 800.

Frenchman Teddy Tamgho delivered the third-longest leap in history as he soared 18.04 metres to win the triple jump and Christina Obergfoell’s javelin victory gave Germany their fourth field event gold.

Traditionally athletics programmes ended with the 4x400m relay but such is Bolt’s worldwide selling power that recent events have been rejigged to ensure the Jamaican gets top billing.

Jamaica were pipped by Britain in the heats but the favourites drafted in Bolt and Nickel Ashmeade, while the U.S., unusually, used the same four in their evening heat as in the final.

Initially it seemed to be working in the Americans’ favour as they led approaching the final bend but Rakieem Salaam’s handover to Justin Gatlin left the individual 100m runner-up off balance. He clearly strayed into the Jamaicans’ lead outside him but somehow escaped disqualification.

It made no difference to Bolt, who streaked clear to complete victory in 37.36 seconds, the sixth-fastest ever, with the U.S. in 37.66

Britain, another nation with a painful history of relay foul ups, crossed the line third but were disqualified for a late changeover. That promoted Canada on to the podium and somewhat made amends for the 2012 Olympics when they were disqualified after finishing third.

Bolt delighted the crowed with a celebratory Cossack dance, not easy for someone 6ft 5ins (1.95 metres) tall, before parading round the track with his three medals on show for 50,000 flashing cameras.

HORRIBLY WRONG

America’s women also got it horribly wrong, although they managed a super-human recovery to claim bronze.

English Gardner had come to a complete standstill by the time she finally collected the baton for the third leg but a brilliant bend and an astounding last leg by Octavious Freeman took the U.S. through half the field for bronze behind France.

By then Jamaica’s quartet of Carrie Russell, Kerron Stewart, Schillonie Calvert and Fraser-Pryce were celebrating their win in 41.29, second only to America’s 40.82 set at last year’s Olympics and inside the drug-fuelled 41.37 of East Germany that stood for 27 years.

Having become the fourth-fastest 1,500m runner of all time last month, Kiprop started hot favourite and nobody could live with his long-striding acceleration over the last 200 metres as he triumphed in 3:36.28.

American Matthew Centrowitz took silver and South African Johan Cronje a surprise bronze as both men finished strongly.

Sum’s victory was much less expected as her late burst denied Russia’s Mariya Savinova back-to-back 800m titles.

She took gold in 1:57.38, ahead of Savinova (1:57.80). Brenda Martinez grabbed third as she overhauled compatriot Alysia Johnson Montano, who had run a brave front-running race but ended fourth, flat on the track and sobbing uncontrollably.

Tamgho was already leading when he landed two fouls around the 18 metre mark before nailing the breakthrough distance with his last. Only American Kenny Harrison (18.09) and Jonathan Edwards’s 1995 world record of 18.29 are longer.

Pedro Pablo Pichardo of Cuba took silver with 17.68 and American Will Claye was third on 17.52, well clear of out-of-sorts compatriot and world and Olympic champion Christian Taylor in a frustrated fourth.

After years of agonising near misses, an emotional Obergfoell took her first major javelin title at the age of 31 after throwing a season’s best 69.05 metres.

Defending champion Maria Abakumova could only manage 65.09 behind surprise Australian runner-up Kimberly Mickle (66.60), to match the bronze her husband Dmitri Tarabin won in the men’s final.

Obergfoell had previously won two silvers as well as finishing second and third at the last two Olympics.

Russia topped the medal table with seven golds, though the Americans will promote themselves top under their counting system after finishing second on six but also gathering a mountain of 13 silvers in a total of 25.

Jamaica also had six golds with Kenya on five, Germany four and Ethiopia and Britain both on three.

After signing off with a near-full house on Sunday following a week of poor crowds, the IAAF will be delighted to send their showpiece event to Beijing in 2015 and London two years later as returning to the most recent Olympic stadiums should guarantee healthy attendances throughout.

(Editing by Ed Osmond)

Inquest probes Vic garbage chute death

A concierge who found the body of a Melbourne woman beneath a garbage chute was repeatedly visited by a man claiming her death was a suicide, an inquest has heard.

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Phoebe Handsjuk, 24, plunged 12 floors down the chute at a luxury Melbourne apartment complex where she lived with her partner Antony Hampel in December 2010.

Police found she had committed suicide but her family has questioned the competence of their investigation, the opening of the inquest into the death has heard.

Complex concierge Betul Ozulup told the Victorian Coroners Court the page in her logbook for the day Ms Handsjuk died had been mysteriously ripped out.

She said a friend of Mr Hampel also began visiting her every two to three days in the weeks after she had discovered Ms Handsjuk’s body.

The man brought wine and chocolates and told her Ms Handsjuk had been depressed and Mr Hampel had tried everything to help her, Ms Ozulup said.

“He said ‘She couldn’t be saved, she didn’t want to be saved’,” she said.

The man visited her for two weeks until Ms Ozulup told him it was upsetting her, she said.

Counsel assisting the inquest Deborah Siemensma told Coroner Peter White he would be asked to determine if the death was accidental, suicide or whether another person was involved.

Ms Handsjuk was being treated for depression and had traces of alcohol, an anti-depressant and the sleeping pill Stilnox in her system when she died.

Ms Siemensma said the inquest will be told that Stilnox can cause bizarre behaviour such as sleep walking and driving.

But she said the involvement of another person in Ms Handsjuk’s death cannot be totally discounted on the evidence.

Tests had shown it was difficult to climb into the opening of the chute, which was small and one metre from the ground.

“If she was minded to take her life why would she choose such a strange way to do so,” Ms Siemensma said.

The inquest continues.

Gear failure hits Team NZ to level series

Team New Zealand have pulled out of the second race of the America’s Cup challenger series final with an electric gear failure, leaving their best-of-13 match against Luna Rossa locked at 1-1.

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The Italian syndicate completed the course on San Francisco Bay to lodge their first win over the New Zealand outfit since the Louis Vuitton Cup series began six weeks ago.

Strong winds forced the day’s second race to be called off, leaving the final all-square after two days dominated by boat malfunctions.

Team NZ were about 400m ahead as they approached the third mark on Sunday when they suddenly slowed because of a hydraulic fault which prevented the boat from tacking or gibing.

Skipper Dean Barker says they were “crippled” when the electric system that controls the hydraulics of the daggerboard failed inexplicably.

“It’s the nature of these boats unfortunately – there are so many things that can go wrong and today it was a problem with the hydraulics,” Team NZ skipper Dean Barker said.

“We have been very fortunate so far not to have had many issues until today but I guess this just reinforces the need to be 100 per cent.”

Support staff boarded the boat and had repaired the problem ahead of race three, which was subsequently postponed.

It is unclear if the issue was related to a spectacular incident in race one on Saturday in which Team NZ nosedived at high speed, sending two sailors overboard.

Team officials played down the significance of that incident, which damaged carbon fibre fairings.

The New Zealanders went on to win race one after Luna Rossa suffered daggerboard damage.

As has been the case throughout the regatta, New Zealand dominated the start on Sunday, opening up a lead of 23 seconds by the second mark before their problem struck.

Luna Rossa helmsman Chris Draper was happy to secure his team’s first win.

He says rough conditions and intense racing schedule are contributing towards the breakages.

“We’re pushing the boats and loading the wings up way harder,” he said.

Race three and four are scheduled to be sailed on Monday.

Earlier, it was the turn of America’s Cup holders Team Oracle USA to suffer damage to one of their two boats.

A boat skippered by Ben Ainslie was forced to limp back to the team base after snapping a rudder.

Oracle say the incident was the result of a damage caused a day before, when the boat tangled with a buoy.

Oracle will defend the America’s Cup next month against either Team NZ or Luna Rossa.

Russia to build seven new stadiums

The Russian sports ministry has selected a state controlled firm to build seven new stadiums for the 2018 World Cup, the Vedomosti daily reports.

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Russia has already selected 11 cities to host matches in the World Cup but several venues still need to be built from scratch in one of the most ambitious engineering projects in post-Soviet history.

Vedomosti said all the stadiums which need to be built or reconstructed with state financing will be constructed by a state firm attached to the sports ministry called Sport Engineering.

Citing a confirmed construction plan programme, it said that 104.4 billion rubles ($A3.5 billion) had been earmarked from the budget for the construction of the stadiums.

The company will build six stadiums from scratch in Volgograd, Kaliningrad, Nizhny Novgorod, Rostov-on-Don, Samara and Saransk. It will also rebuild the stadium in the Urals city of Yekaterinburg.

Each stadium will have a capacity of 45,000, it added.

Of the other stadiums, three are being built with financing from Russian regional governments and private investors – the Luzhniki and Spartak venues in Moscow and the Gazprom Arena in Saint Petersburg.

The stadium in the Volga city of Kazan, which this year hosted the Universiade world student games, is already operational.

Meanwhile, the stadium in Sochi will be ready for its hosting of the Winter Olympic Games in 2014.

Vedomosti said government sources emphasised that Sport Engineering would merely be carrying out a confirmed construction plan and would not become a mammoth conglomerate.

“The ministry of sport will be responsible for the construction and Sport Engineering is just the technical contractor, it’s not right to say that the construction money will be channelled through it,” a government source told the paper.

The complete absence of usable stadiums in half the Russian host cities has caused anxiety in some quarters although FIFA has expressed satisfaction with Russia’s preparations so far.

There has also been concern about local issues such as the location of the stadium in Yekaterinburg, which is next door to the city’s prison.

Aust golfer Goss in US Amateur final

Australian teenager Oliver Goss is one win away from the US Amateur championship title – and starts in three of next year’s golf majors.

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Goss, 19, beat good friend and fellow West Australian Brady Watt 2-up in his semi-final on Saturday to set up a showdown with England’s Matthew Fitzpatrick in the 36-hole final on the historic course at The Country Club in Brookline, Massachusetts.

Watt planned to stick around to caddy for Goss in the championship match against Fitzpatrick, 18, who scored a 2-and-1 win over Canada’s Corey Conners in the other semi and is bidding to become the first Englishman to win the title since 1911.

Royal Fremantle member Goss can become the third Australian winner, following Nick Flanagan in 2003 and three-time champion Walter J. Travis (1900, 1901, 1903).

Both Goss and Watt have already earned starts in next year’s US Open by reaching the semi-finals, while the title winner also gets into the 2014 Masters and 2014 British Open, all provided they remain amateur.

Experience gained when reaching the quarter-finals of the US Amateur last year paid off for Goss against second seed Watt.

An All-American as a freshman at the University of Tennessee last year, Goss grabbed a 2-up lead after seven holes with a 10-foot uphill birdie putt on the 4th hole and a nine-footer for birdie on the par-3 seventh.

Watt, who arrived in the United States for the first time on June 28, regrouped by holing an 11-foot birdie putt from the fringe on the 8th before pulling level with a par on the 10th.

But Goss regained the lead for good on the 11th hole with an 18-foot birdie putt.

He kept that advantage by sinking a 30-foot par putt to halve the demanding 509-yard, par-4 14th and played out the remaining holes in par to win.

“I used a lot of my experience from last year,” said Goss.

“I can remember a lot of the shots I hit and a lot of the feelings that I had.”

Watt readily admitted Goss was better on the day.

“Whatever I did really well, he kind of did a little bit better,” said Watt.